If coffee had an Instagram account, it would likely have more followers than Taylor, Katy, and Beyoncé combined. In other words, it’s off-the-charts popular.
But like anything with an immense following comes controversy. While some people can’t function without a cup o’ Joe, others shun the liquid wonder for a variety of health reasons. The truth is, few people know that coffee has a laundry list of health benefits. To learn all about them – and celebrate National Coffee Day! — we chatted with dietitians Leah Silberman and Molly Rieger, the brains behind Tovita Nutrition, a virtual nutrition counseling and concierge service. Here, they spill the beans on coffee’s biggest perks and share tips for making it as healthy as possible.
We’re excited to jump right in. Must be the caffeine! What is the Tovita take on coffee?
We don’t just crush on coffee – we’ve got a love affair with it.
First, let’s start by debunking the myth that coffee is bad for you. Coffee is chock-full of antioxidants, which help prevent damage to your body’s cells. Studies have focused on its various health benefits, from boosting brain function to burning fat. Its antioxidants also improve cognition by enhancing the neurotransmitters that regulate memory, mood, energy levels, and reaction times.
Caffeine increases epinephrine (commonly known as adrenaline) levels in the blood, making you more alert. Studies have also revealed that coffee consumption may be related to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and certain cancers. And did you know that coffee is one of the few natural fat-burning substances? It boosts your metabolic rate by breaking down stored fat to be used as fuel. But remember, these benefits apply to coffee and not all sources of caffeine. That said, don’t go near sodas and energy drinks with a ten-foot pole, as these calorie- and chemical-laden beverages can be detrimental to your health. If you’re looking for a perk and aren’t a coffee drinker, go for unsweetened black or green tea, or try Matcha.
Unless you’re a night FLYer, we recommend drinking coffee about a half-hour before class to add a little pep in your step, pedal strokes, and pulses. Around 250 mg of coffee, which is equivalent to a Starbucks tall regular brew, will not only give you a boost of energy, but may also help you burn more fat. While we aren’t recommending you replace your water bottle with the stuff, it’s a myth that coffee is dehydrating. It is, however, a diuretic, meaning it increases frequency of urination (skip a venti before a FLY90, perhaps).
PIMP YOUR CUP
For many people, coffee is a vehicle for cream and heaps of sugar. Next time you’re whipping up a cup or placing your order, keep these tips in mind:
- Opt for low-fat or skim milk, unsweetened almond or soy milk, or the latest alternatives like coconut, hemp, or cashew milk.
- Skip the sugar and artificial sweeteners. Since that’s easier said than done, we advise clients to wean themselves off. Slowly reduce the amount until you no longer need it. The day will come!
- Account for calories. While the occasional latte is ok – the extra milk adds protein and calcium – the calories clock in at around 150 for small cup. And that’s with skim milk!
Tovita nutrition is one-on-one counseling sessions take place via videoconference, eliminating that time in transit we all dread getting to and from an appointment. The girls work with clients to create individualized meal plans catered to his or her unique lifestyle and goals. Their blog is also a go-to for healthy recipes, the truth about the latest nutrition fads, and interviews with influencers in the wellness world.
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